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710 to 740 (Q48 V44)

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Joined: 21 Apr 2012
Posts: 10
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 710 Q49 V38
GMAT 2: 740 Q48 V44
GPA: 3.8
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710 to 740 (Q48 V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2013, 13:08
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Disclaimer: This is less a list of things to do and more a general description of what I did to prepare for the test and what I learned from it. More specifically this is a short article discussing things I wish I knew before I started my prep.

GENERAL DISCUSSION
-----------------------------

Take the diagnostic test early. Take it seriously. Spend time analyzing the results in order to identify the areas of study that you need to concentrate on. This will save you a lot of pain and grief later.

Quantitative Section
--------------------------
If you have given the SAT or GRE, you will notice that the quant section is different and, in my opinion, more difficult. What do I mean by difficult? The concepts tested are basic and simple but the structure of the test makes it challenging. Take Data Sufficiency for instance. The problem space for DS is “infinite”, especially in comparison to the PS problems. If you cannot arrive at an answer for DS is it because you don't know concept or because you made a mistake or because it is truly unsolvable with the given information? As you begin solving these questions you will see patterns but the previously described problem remains especially for the tough DS problems and under time pressure.

Even with PS problems GMAT likes to throw you a curve ball. A question testing a simple concept will be asked in a convoluted way. The problems are designed to discourage linear thinking. Spend time during the prep phase identifying and understanding the simplest approach for solving each problem that you come across or you will end up wasting valuable time on exam day simply because you missed the simpler approach and chose the more involved method. The only thing that you can do to develop this skill is to practice. Even then, this is no guarantee against making a silly mistake on exam day.

Verbal Section
------------------
This section is a tough one for a non-native speaker. Fortunately it is also easy to remedy. All you need is some strategic planning. Some recommend reading newspapers, the WSJ etc. to improve reading skills and help with sentence correction. Personally I am skeptical of this approach. In my opinion one would need years of doing this to acquire any meaningful improvement in skills. Why? The idea behind this approach is to get your mind to adapt to the intricacies and vagaries of the English language on a subconscious level. This is not something that you can do in a few months’ time no matter how many articles or news reports you read. It is better to have a more targeted study plan.
The Verbal Section is made more difficult because of its position in the order of GMAT sections. It is the last section. By the time you get to it your mind has done a couple of hours of heavy lifting and is tired. Your mind will drift off in the middle of reading a passage. Prepare for this by taking entire GMAT test from the very 1st test you take. Get into the habit of it, taking breaks, etc. Not only will it prepare you for the test, it will also make you relaxed for the final test.

Integrated Reasoning
---------------------------
I found this section more difficult than the one it replaced. Each prompt will give you an overwhelming amount of data. You instinctively want to take all of it in. You will think, hey, if it is given then it must be important. This is not so. The whole point of this section is to test your ability to extract relevant information from a sea of data, to find that proverbial needle in the haystack. You will be tested on the relationship between different bits of data, patterns, trends, etc. You will need to develop the ability to shut out the stuff that is not relevant. Make sure you practice for these problems with a timer.

AWA is covered in detail somewhere else on this forum. I don’t have anything to add here except to say that you should make use of skills you develop for CR in the verbal section, here.

You will notice a recurring theme above- practice-not just quantity but quality. Be strategic in your approach. Time your work from the beginning. Make note of the material you have trouble with. Pay extra attention to them. The 740 that I got is, in my opinion an OK score. On a different day, it could easily have been 760/770 or 720. Remember that the GMAT score is only one part of your MBA application. Reasonably speaking, your goal should be to get a defensible score.


RESOURCES
---------------

The GMAC Original Guide, GMAC Verbal Review & GMAC Quant Review
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
You have to get these books. They provide the most authentic GMAT experience when it comes to the structure and type of questions that you will see on the exam. Unfortunately, they do not have an in-depth analysis of the topics that the GMAT is base on. For that you will want to make use of the resources identified below. Don't solve the problems in these books with goal of just getting through them. Time yourself. When you finish, turn to the back of the section and see which problems you got right and which you didn't. Spend time understanding the solution to the ones you got wrong. Don't skip over the ones you got right. There may be a simpler better approach to solving the problem. Knowing multiple approaches to solving a problem will save you valuable time on the test.
Incorporate what you have learnt into your approach when you solve problems the next day.

Resources for Quant
--------------------------
Get the Manhattan Quant books. Once you have mastered the topics and the format of the test you can get the Advanced Quant book from Manhattan GMAT. Remember, to figure out the true measure of your capability time yourself. The problems by themselves are not difficult; identifying what is given, what is asked and coming up with plan to get to the solution within 2 minutes is. For example, I had trouble solving DS questions in the allocated time, especially those that had to do with properties of numbers.

Resources for Verbal
--------------------------
For Sentence Correction (SC) use Manhattan GMAT
For Critical Reasoning (CR) use the Power Score Bible.
For Reading Comprehension (RC) you can use just about any of the prep guides available. Almost all of them will give you the same information.
I found Kaplan’s GMAT particularly useful for verbal. The RC's are way more difficult that what you will come across on the GMAT test, but mastering them will prepare you for those types of problems.

Resources for Integrated Reasoning
----------------------------------------------
There aren't many resources available for this section. You can use
Manhattan GMAT IR (much difficult than what you will see on the test but good practice nonetheless)
The 50 IR question bank from GMAC
GmatPill IR (there is considerable overlap among the question on GMATPill and the other resources mentioned)


RETAKING THE GMAT
--------------------------

When you have a sub 700 score and you are targeting the top schools, retaking the test is, in my humble opinion, a no brainier, unless you have other things going on that will make for a kickass application package, excellent recommendations, awesome work ex, extras, etc.
Similarly a score of 750+ should convince you to move on with the rest of your application. Spending time and effort to try to go from 750 to 760/770 is a game of diminishing returns. A perfect score of 800 certainly has the "wow" factor but I don't know if that influences your chances of getting in to a prestigious in any discernible quantifiable way. I may be wrong here and would love to hear what people have to say on this issue.
However, the bigger question is what do you do when you get a borderline decent score and are trying to figure out if you want to take another crack at the GMAT to get a better score.
You need to consider the following
A] were you scoring consistently better in your practice tests?
B] do you have time?
C] are you part of a "over represented" applicant pool
D] peace of mind

Depending on your situation, you will probably give different priorities/ weights to each of the above factors. At the end of the day, go with your gut.

EXAM DAY
------------

On exam day, relax. Go back and read that word again. You have done all you could. Try to take out as much uncertainty out of the exam as you can. Shell out a few dollars for the work booklet and the eraser able pen. The size and feel of the scratchpad that you get on exam day is very different from an ordinary pen and paper. This difference threw me a little bit the first time around. I got the right equipment and practiced with it for my second attempt and it made a world of difference. Just go in there and do what you have trained to do. You should do just fine.

Hope this helps.
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Manager
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Joined: 25 Jun 2012
Posts: 115
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 700 Q47 V40
GMAT 2: 740 Q48 V44
GPA: 3.48
Followers: 2

Kudos [?]: 17 [0], given: 18

Re: 710 to 740 (Q48 V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2013, 15:32
Congrats score twin!

Completely agree on the quality vs quantity issue. As my high school football coach would say,"practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect!"

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Re: 710 to 740 (Q48 V44)   [#permalink] 08 Feb 2013, 15:32
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